At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Renata Tebaldi – opera singer

Performer with a beautiful lirico soprano voice

Renata Tebaldi was born on February 1 1922
Renata Tebaldi pictured in 1961
Photo: Umberto Borsò (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Opera singer Renata Tebaldi was born on this day in 1922 in Pesaro.

Said by Arturo Toscanini to possess ‘the voice of an angel’, Tebaldi had a long stage career and made numerous recordings.

Her parents had separated before her birth and she grew up in the home of her maternal grandparents in Langhirana in the province of Parma in Emilia-Romagna.

Tebaldi was stricken with polio at the age of three but later became interested in music and sang in the church choir. She was sent to have piano lessons but the teacher decided she should study singing instead and arranged for her to attend the conservatory in Parma. She later transferred to Liceo Musicale Rossini in Pesaro.

Tebaldi made her stage debut in Rovigo in 1944 but her beautiful voice first began to attract attention in 1946 when she appeared as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello in Trieste.

She auditioned for Toscanini who was immediately impressed by her and she made her debut at La Scala singing in a concert to mark the reopening of the theatre after the Second World War.

Toscanini encouraged her to learn to sing the part of Aida and to rehearse in his own studio.

She made her debut in the role at La Scala in 1950 alongside Mario del Monaco, which helped launch her international career.

In 1950 Maria Callas was taken on at La Scala as a substitute Aida when Tebaldi was indisposed.

There were rumours of rivalry between them for the rest of their careers although Tebaldi considered herself to be a lyric soprano and Callas considered herself to be a dramatic coloratura soprano.

Tebaldi became popular with audiences at the Metropolitan Opera in New York where she sang regularly until her last appearance as Desdemona in Otello in 1973.

She retired from singing completely in 1976 and died at the age of 82 at her home in San Marino.

The Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, where Renata Tebaldi enjoyed her first success
The Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, where
Renata Tebaldi enjoyed her first success
Travel tip:

Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, where Tebaldi had her first big stage success, was built to replace a smaller theatre and inaugurated as Teatro Nuovo in 1801. It was the site of the premiere of Verdi’s opera Il Corsaro in 1848 featuring soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, who Verdi later married. Within hours of Verdi’s death in 1901 the theatre had been renamed in honour of the composer.

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Travel tip:

Langhirano, Renata Tebaldi’s home town, is in the province of Parma in Emilia-Romagna. It is known for the big 15th century castle of Torrechiara , perched on high ground overlooking a valley, where a music festival dedicated to Renata Tebaldi is held each summer. 

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